Smart energy solutions in Finland

The energy sector is undergoing a major transformation, with developments including the growth of clean, weather-dependent energy production, the expansion of energy storage, Internet of Things (IoT), digitalisation, systems thinking, and new business models.

Energy distribution needs to become much smarter and renewable energy more universal to ensure the transformations are tackled successfully. Finland is one of the most advanced smart grid markets in the world and provides an ideal test bed for tomorrow’s smart energy solutions. Climate change, accelerating urbanisation, and rapidly growing industry calls for innovation in creating and renewing energy infrastructure in both developing and developed countries.

Pioneering smart grid 2.0

Finnish smart energy is ready to electrify the global energy transformation. Finland has one of the most advanced smart grid markets in the world and can provide an ideal test bed for tomorrow’s smart energy solutions. Finland has decades worth of experience in running an extremely stable electric grid whilst pioneering the use of smart meters. Now, Finland is focusing on high-level digitalisation and smart grid 2.0.

Finland is also pushing developments in making smart transformations: 40% of Finnish energy is currently being produced by renewable energy like biomass, hydro, wind and solar. However, the Finnish Government will not stop there. Finland will go carbon neutral by 2030 and the country is placing a large amount of investment in renewable energy production and biofuels.

Tomorrow’s smart energy technology is developed and tested in Finland

After years of relentless public-private innovation and collaboration, Finland has now become a smart energy and renewables forerunner. Finnish companies are global market leaders in renewable technologies such as wind turbine components, solar inverters, bio and waste-to-energy systems, as well as pioneers in system integration and smart grids.

Finland is now the unpassable hub for smart energy innovation. Finnish brainpower and clean technologies will help you transform conventional electrical grids into high-performance smart grids, with distributed energy generation, intelligent power management, and a high level of digitisation.

Finland provides an electric research and development environment enabling a perfect test bed for companies offering smart grid technology and distribution automation. If you are an international software or IoT company looking for lucrative collaboration opportunities, or a company offering smart grid technology and distribution automation, you should make Finland your next destination.

Tomorrow’s smart energy tech is developed and tested in Finland today.

Smart energy programme (2017-2021)

The smart energy programme of Business Finland supports Finland’s smart energy industry and helps companies grow in international energy markets. The programme builds networks and testing platforms to boost the competitiveness of Finnish companies and to attract investors to Finland. The smart energy programme challenges the energy industry to utilise digitalisation, IoT, and artificial intelligence to create an internet of energy; and enhances international collaboration – test platforms are open to foreign companies and research organisations.

The programme develops and finances testing platforms and innovation ecosystems that will accelerate the competitiveness of Finnish companies; their export of expertise in growing international markets will attract foreign investments to Finland. The ecosystems also open up opportunities for small and medium-sized companies to access energy markets, which requires large investments.

The development of new businesses and solutions require possibilities for testing. Testing platforms offer the opportunity to test, pilot and implement research and development projects in the focus areas of the programme – these include smart networks, renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable and smart energy solutions and systems, their related products and services, as well as resource-wise solution based on user needs.

Rather than developing a single technology, it is preferable to develop ecosystems and technology integration into a smart system. The aim is to create several testing platforms in Finland that are internationally attractive. The following testing platforms have already been established as part of the programme.

How we can turn ideas into reality in smart energy

Smart Otaniemi in Finland is an innovation ecosystem that connects experts, organisations, technologies and pilot projects – it brings the building blocks of a smart energy future together. The testing platform is being built around Nokia’s 5G network, utilising the opportunities it brings for fast transfer of data.

The rationale behind the Smart Otaniemi

Changing the conventional energy system into a new, dynamic and low-carbon one is a huge challenge. It is necessary to be able to test the new ideas and technology as well as simulate the large-scale changes before decision making and regulatory changes. New enabling technologies like artificial intelligence and distributed ledgers (e.g. blockchain) bring forth demands for co-innovation in the energy domain. New business models and services to end users can be developed in living labs like Smart Otaniemi.

Smart Otaniemi is a piloting platform that contributes to the following objectives: societal development, excellent innovative capabilities and opportunities for new business. For a company, Smart Otaniemi can bring a multitude of new possibilities. It can result in direct business case, offering vital references for new products and services utilising smart energy. It offers a good basis for co-developing new services together with customers and business partners. In a strategic sense, innovation ecosystems can be integrated into a company’s own research and development strategy and activities. Innovation ecosystems like Smart Otaniemi are also places for gaining visibility and placing a positive image on driving the latest development.

Smart Otaniemi is located at the Otaniemi area in Espoo City in Finland. Espoo is home to many tech firms like Nokia, Microsoft and Rovio, and for years has had an active start-up community which has sparked the emergence of others. Otaniemi is the basis for Aalto University campus and the VTT Technical Research Centre, as well as being right next to the headquarters of several large global technology companies, and many of Finland’s research and development organisations. On top of that, Otaniemi is home to beautiful nature and picturesque spots, whilst being located on the seafront. The site is easily connected to Helsinki city centre via a half-an-hour underground connection.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is co-ordinating the testing environment and building it in close co-operation with the network of actors formed by the universities, companies and public corporations. The first experiments will begin in 2018, with the main aims being:

  • Collecting information and experiences on utilising the 5G and IoT platform;
  • Improving the energy efficiency of buildings;
  • Increasing flexibility in the electricity markets; and
  • Creating charging solutions for electric vehicles.

Students from Aalto University will also be involved in testing the solutions. Students can get involved in the development work through possible thesis topics.

Smart Otaniemi platform – it’s all about data

The Finnish electricity system is often referred to as Smart Grid 1.0 or similar, indicating that Finland has implemented many smart grid functionalities in the current systems. The level of network automation, deployment of smart meters and open energy market are all products of the advanced smart energy system.

The Smart Otaniemi platform aims to create easy access to data from different sources to enable development of new types of aggregated services and applications for energy, building and communication market sectors. The Smart Otaniemi platform is designed to collect information from low-level sensors to companies’ information systems running as cloud services. For this, a new hybrid data platform is required to increase information exchange between stakeholders’ information systems in a more efficient and flexible way.

The Smart Otaniemi platform structure enables development of new smart energy-related services and applications utilising data. The Smart Otaniemi pilot platform offers experimental research activities as well as close-to-market proofing of concepts and products.

Consumer in the spotlight

Smart Otaniemi provides a flexible environment for innovators and pilot projects. It is open for investors, business partners and researchers to join in creating a smarter world. The idea is to integrate real customers, this is because the future in energy is about us as consumers, our beliefs and attitudes. Thus, it is extremely important to take citizens on the journey with us; enabling a wider collaboration of imagination and innovation to allow us to create a carbon-free future and provide a lighter burden on future generations.

Focus on agile piloting

Smart Otaniemi is an ecosystem of 34 partners, working on seven concrete pilots, developing new ideas and creating new business. The ecosystem is open for new partners with new pilot ideas, ranging from quick testing of new solutions, to more research oriented topics in the energy field. The identified topics for substance roadmaps are smart energy storage, the flexibility market, Power-to-X, autonomous driving and future city structures. The idea is to be able to experiment with new solutions on a system level, while also utilising the simulation and virtual modelling potential that the research partners in Otaniemi can provide – creating next generation energy solutions for different regions.

The current partner network represents multiple sectors from ICT to energy utilities, service providers, technology vendors and real estate owners. Companies vary from startups to big corporations – everyone shares the same long-term vision: making energy smarter for the future.

International showroom

Otaniemi represents a demonstration and piloting area that can be integrated to future European projects. It will also be linked with clean energy ministerial mission innovation activities and other international programmes for smart energy research and innovation.

Networking and collaboration in similar areas and innovation ecosystems globally provides huge advantages in terms of exchanging knowledge and spreading the world-class solutions that help us to build a cleaner future for the cities as well as the fundamentals for a better life for the citizens.

FLEXe-demo – Demonstration of future energy markets and regulation in full society scales flexibility to facilitate variable renewable generation

CLIC Innovation Ltd (CLIC) – and its partners in Finland and Åland Islands – are planning a wider society scale demonstration for the novel energy market and creating related regulation that would generate investments, allowing flexible and smart matching of electricity consumption and generation economically viable. In other words, create incentives and regulation for all stakeholders of the energy system to act smarter. This would enable an increased share of renewable weather dependent generation, e.g. solar and wind power.

A reflection of the future smart energy system and resulting operational environment will be realised in Åland Islands. It will be naturally, technically, economically and politically isolated in order to set up a well controlled test bed. This would mean a fully renewable electricity system. The most relevant characteristics of the society in Åland Islands are a 1-200 scale down from mainland Finland. That would ensure high scalability of the essential elements for much larger societies and systems globally.

In order to enable and encourage flexible and smart operation of various subsystems of a society, stakeholders and enablers’ best available smart energy grid and IT technologies are to be applied to ensure interoperability of all relevant contributors.

CLIC is currently executing a project in which the structure for the whole ecosystem of the FLEXe-demo has been defined and respective sub-ecosystems formed. The identified subsystems consist of demand response, renewable transportation, solar power, wind power, heat and CHP and electricity storage. The subsystems are linked in with two platform subsystems, namely regulation and market mechanisms; and smart grid and ICT. These will integrate the subsystems both economically and technically ensuring financial viability and functionality respectively. The corresponding sub-ecosystems define necessary investments, operations and characteristics in such a detailed level, on which the individual subsystem specific investment cases could be based. Development of the first investment cases should begin 2018 aiming at investment decisions and concrete investments already in 2019.

Targets of FLEXe-demo include:

  • Performance, availability and/or power based market and regulation;
  • Integration of subsystems, technologies and businesses on smart grid platform;
  • Empowerment of citizens; and
  • Demonstration of 100% RESe on a small society scale based on Finnish strengths.

Business Finland – growth, renewal and success

Business Finland creates new growth by helping businesses go global and by supporting and funding innovations.  We enable companies to grow internationally and also create world-class business ecosystems and a competitive business environment for Finland.

Business Finland employs 600 experts in 40 offices overseas and 20 regional offices around Finland.

Pia Salokoski is the Program Manager for Smart Energy at Business Finland

Sanna Öörni is the Co Creation Manager at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

Pia Saari is the CTO at CLIC Innovation

Tommy Jacobson is the MD/CEO at CLIC Innovation

Business Finland

+358 29 50 55000

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